Degustation at BRAE Restaurant, Victoria


Brae is situated on 30 acres at 4825 Cape Otway Road, Birregurra. Each day chef Dan Hunter and his team carefully source a selection of the highest quality ingredients from Brae’s own organic kitchen garden, local farms and ethical, sustainable producers from Victoria and beyond. With the greatest respect, these ingredients are transformed into the day’s menu. Dan has a great Degustation and matching wines menu for meat lovers and vegetarians.

Degustation and Matching Wines

For the 10 course menu there was an interesting array of local and overseas wines, plus a pink sake and a Danish beer. Really interesting combinations! A few examples:


2009 Blake’s Estate Pinot. Light pink colour. Strawberry sappy nose. Nice creamy mouthfeel. Sweet strawberry, cherry, lemon, sappy savouriness and bracing acid. Soft tannins. Finished dry. Excellent with the range of entrees that included prawn nasturtium & finger lime, flaxseed & rocket, red roach & almond with cured egg & broccoli, beef tendon & mountain pepper, and burnt pretzel treacle & pork.



2012 Garagiste Chardonnay. Pale straw. Fresh citrus grapefruit vanillin oak and minerals. Lemon grapefruit taut minerality. Went well with southern rock lobster cooked with carrot, white onion and sea butter.


2012 old hog Pinot. Vibrant red purple. Savoury mushroom sappy strawberry. Sour cherry earth sappy nice dusty tannins. Good marriage with the dry aged jumbuck, beans, and barbecued lettuce.


Pink sake. From Kyoto. Made with Red rice. Floral, sweet. Lighter style. Nice mouthfeel. Interesting match for charred radicchio and duck offal, quandong cooked with rhubarb

2012 Paradise IV Batesford Shiraz. Bright crimson with purple hue. Lovely spice cherry on nose. Spice pepper cherry red fruit medium body noce mouthfeel. Lovely juicy fruit driven and spicy style current drinking. Winemaker … Studied under Rock Kitzenbrunner of Giaconda fame. Excellent with grass fed wagyu, salted radish, rock samphire, Otway shiitake.

2011 Fritz Haag Spatlese Riesling. 8% alcohol. Lime Lemon spice nose. Green apple sweet honey candied fruit lychee palate.

2004 Botrytis Chenin Blanc from the Loire valley. High acid. Botrytis and late harvest. Pale straw. Honied apples nose. Spice cinnamon peach apricot molasses rich mouthfiling. Finishes clean. Great with the parsnip and apple dessert. DELICIOUS!!





Food & Wine Weekend at Tarnwarndcoort Homestead, country Victoria

The word “Tarndwarncoort” is based on the ancient Gulidjan tribal language, used by indigenous people to describe the undulating hilly landscape the property sits upon. First settled in 1840s, the building is one of Victoria’s heritage buildings and a great getaway off the Princess Highway not far from Colac in country Victoria.


Day 1. Six of us settled into an evening of tasting excellent wine and cooking great food. Started with two aged Rieslings. A 2006 Pizzini Riesling that was drinking beautifully with lovely developed characters, touch of sweetness, and rich mouthfeel. Also had a 2004 Leasingham Bin 7 that was more developed and had less fruit, but still a good wine.

Four Great Wines to match our Cape Grimm dry aged Prime Rib


1999 Bests FHT Shiraz, Great Western, Victoria, Australia
Brick red colour. Glorious nose of violets, milk chocolate, confectionary and dark plums. Superb rich and concentrated mouthfeel with great length. Spice, ripe brambly fruit, vanilla soft tannins and anise all combine to flood the senses. Great wine. Tasted blind, several friends thought this was a Barossa wine and found it difficult to believe such a rich wine could come from Western Victoria. Drinking beautifully now, it can keep for a few more years yet. 96/100.
The quality of this wine is surprising given the difficult vintage conditions with a spring frost wiping out almost 80% of the premium fruit.


The 2004 Langmeil Freedom Shiraz and the 2004 Peter Lehman Stonewell Shiraz made an interesting comparison. Both fabulous wines showing the best qualities of premium Barossa old vine fruit with great intensity, lovely dark berry fruit, spice and creamy oak. The Stonewell showed a little more elegance with nuances of red berries, dark chocolate and dusty tannins. The Freedom was a little bigger and richer with lovely dark chocolate and earthy characters. Both great wines! 95/100

The 2007 Cullen’s Diana Madeline Cabernet Merlot Petit Verdot was another beauty. I suspect we opened it 10 years too early, but the wine opened with a few hours breathing. Lovely flavours of blackcurrent, cedar, and vanillan oak. Very elegant and seamless. A delight to drink. 95/100. Keep. Drink 2017-2020.

All 4 bottles disappeared far too quickly! Hence the Berocca came in handy the next morning……..

Tomorrow we dine at Brae restaurant run by our favourite chef Dan Hunter.

Still waiting so more wines to try….


2010 Domaine La Fourmone, Tu Tresor Poete, Vacqueyras, southern Rhone, France

Dull purple to brick red. Sweet spicy nose with blueberry fruit and liquorice. Soft medium bodied palate with nice richness, and flavours of blue and red berries, liquorice all sorts, mushroom, spice and good tannins. Easy and pleasant drinking. 89/100. Can keep for another 3-5+ years! but nice while young and fresh. Colour worries me for the long term.

2008 Kellermeister ‘Boots’ Dry Grown Shiraz, Barossa Valley, South Australia

Lovely bright purple colour with dark core. Pungent nose of vanillan oak, sweet red cherries and cocoa. Palate has lovely intense sweet red berried fruit with strong vanillan oak and hint of mocha. Good mouthfeel and nice finish with sweet tannins. Can certainly keep. Drink 2018-2025. 92/100.

Hamilton Russell Vineyard Pinot Noir, South Africa

Bottle empty!!! Flight called……..
Next time.

Wines in Heathrow BA Lounge


Waiting for my Qantas flight back home to Oz, so let’s try what’s on offer…..



2006 Chateau Batailley, 5th Growth, Pauillac, Bordeaux, France

The vineyard area extends to 57 hectares (140 acres), planted with 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. Around 22,000 cases (2,000 hectolitres) of Château Batailley are produced each year.

Plum colour. Nose of earth, crushed rocks, satsuma plum and some meatiness. Pleasant mid weight soft palate with cherry, dark earth, savoury, chary characters, and soft acid with dusty tannins. Still evolving but easy to drink. 88/100. About $60 overseas.

2009 chateau du Moulin Noir, Montagne St Emilion, Bordeaux, France

Montagne-Saint-Emilion surrounds the village of Montagne, 4.8km to the north of the town of Saint-Emilion. Pomerol is about the same distance to the west of Montagne. Very picturesque area, great for bike riding if you can manage the narrow roads. The grape varieties permitted within the appellation are Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Merlot is the dominant variety by far, most often partnered with Cabernet Franc.

Brick red colour. Soft blueberry and spice nose. Soft character but quite unbalanced at the moment. Acid and tannins dominant with some nice blueberry fruit in the background. Intense wine that needs time to settle. Lacks balance and finished a little harsh. Not for me. 84/100

Cabernet duel – Napa Valley versus McLaren Vale

Decanted and served blind.


2005 Two Hand, Charlie’s Patch, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California

Brick red with purple hue. Intense spicy, menthol, red fruit nose. Good creamy mouthfeel with briary fruit. Long drying and tannic finish. Clearly a very good quality Cabernet, but no one picked Napa Valley. 91/100. Needs more time to come together. Drink 2016-2025

2010 Clarendon Hills, Hickinbotham, Cabernet Sauvignon, McLaren Vale, South Australia

Bright purple with a dark core. Smokey, sappy, spicy nose with dusty oak, chocolate and white pepper. Lifted acids on palate with dark fruits, dark chocolate, spice, dusty oak and some savoury grilled meat flavours. Great balance and complexity. Very nice wine and one for the cellar. 95/100. Drink 2020-2030+.

I thought this was an old world wine and surprised by this style coming from McLaren Vale, but not surprised when I found out it was from Clarendon Hills. Roman Bratasiuk calls this wine his “Little Latour”. Interesting to compare these two new world Cabernets. The McLaren Vale preferred in this instance.

The end of a great weekend of wine tasting!! 19 wines over 3 days. We now need a week to detox our livers!


Different but Similar – Rolland versus Ringland

Two fine wines from two great winemakers……


2005 Yacochuya Malbec, Salta region, Argentina

Tasted blind: Wine consultant Michel Rolland. Brick red with purple tinges. Nose of plum, chocolate, earth and spice. Very rich and inviting. Warm palate filled with dark berries, dark chocolate, coffee and spice. Fine drying tannins and good finish. Tricky wine to pick blind. The richness made most think of Shiraz first but a lot of uncertainty. A very rich and inviting wine that is easy to drink and enjoy with beef or game. 94/100. Drink now to 3 years

2010 Chris Ringland, Reservation Shiraz, Barossa Valley, South Australia

Tasted blind: Winemaker Chris Ringland. An extraordinarily good winemaker and great person to know. He will happily chat to you about his vines, wines and winemaking all afternoon over several glasses…..
This deep purple wine clings to the glass and has a lovely perfumed nose of plum, chocolate, dark berries and fruitcake. The palate is rich and mouth coating with flavours of spice, mocha, prune, and fruitcake. Incredibly rich but not jammy. A wine that evolved and improved over several hours in the decanter. 95/100. Wait for 2-3 years then enjoy over the next 5-8 years.

Verdict: Split decision. Have five bob each way….drink the Yacochuya now and the Ringland in a few years. Win-win!

Very Special Whites – d’Yquem and Leonay



Every now and then you get to try something very special…….

1991 Leo Buring, Leonay Riesling, Eden Valley, South Australia

Tasted blind: Beautiful straw, gold colour. Glorious intense nose of pineapple, lemon, honey, and toast. Only a hint of aged “kerosene” found in aged Rieslings. And a palate to match! Very intense and opulent with honey, lemon, toast, and nougat. Long clean acid and mineral finish. This was something special and we all went back for multiple ‘tastes’ until the masked bottle was empty. We agreed this was a beautifully aged Aussie Riesling with some debate whether it was Watervale or Eden Valley. There was NO debate on the drinkability of this wine! Outstanding. 98/100. Drink now – it’s at its best.

1998 Chateau d’Yquem, 1er Grand Cru, Sauternes, France.

Tasted Blind: The moment you bring this to your nose, you know it’s something special! The nose is flooded with aromas of pineapple, apricots, marmalade, and vanilla creme fraiche. Although the botrytis character is not strong, the palate follows the nose with sweet pineapple, vanilla, marmalade and spice. Nice acid to balance. Went well with cheese and dried figs. Fairly easy for all to pick this as a top wine from Sauternes. Most agreed d’Yquem or Rieussec. 94/100. Enjoyable now but will continue to develop for another 15-20 years. The 375ml bottles ages quite quickly.